As you wonderfuls all know, I am one to see the stories that unfold in all the pockets of air around us. Invisible, unseen stories unfold in front of my eyes, they come from the thoughts and feelings of people, trees, stones, the water, the air... the cats... bottom line is, I pick up stories, or rather, I soak up stories.
Now, many of you also know that I take a lot of university open online courses, so naturally, I have been able to pick up the stories from those classroom forums. And I have a few things to say, so brace yourselves.
I previously thought that all the talk about educational systems being detrimental to the growth of the individual rather than beneficial, was just that, all a bunch of talk. But now I can see that those people are coming from somewhere and they know what they're talking about. You'd think that a non-traditional learning environment like a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) would cultivate non-traditional, beneficial reactions and behaviours from the students enrolled. Sure, it is the case in some seldom circumstances— but then those circumstances are very seldom. Most of the time, I am saying to myself, If this is how adults act in life, then how can any adult anywhere, expect more from the younger generation? If we are to expect nobility or at least just decency, from the younger generation, shouldn't we be the ones to first exude these traits? To cultivate these traits within us?
Just like any high school from your everyday, average high school nightmare session— people in MOOCs try to be teachers' pets, try to go off in little "groups", try to huddle together whilst making others feel bad... it's high school minds in adult bodies. It's terrible. Really, it is. But more than just the shallow high school nightmarish stuff, it does go much deeper than that. I have encountered classmates who are so afraid of the grading systems, that they would rather follow the prescribed grading system (because we grade one another for our written essays) than grade a fellow student according to how they see fit. Now what I'm saying here, is that many times, the grading rubric puts a limit on the student. Many times, a student will perform so much better than the ceiling reach of the rubric provided. In such cases, I will give the fellow classmate a perfect score. I don't allow the rubric to limit the performance of a peer. Of course, there is the big question, But what if the other students don't do the same for me? But the way I see it, is that it really doesn't matter. If I give everyone I grade a perfect score, that won't make my own score go down and if I fail everyone I grade, that wouldn't make my own score go up, either! So why not give to someone what that someone really deserves? And when an essay I am grading is absolutely terrible, what I do is try to use the rubric to find "rubric goodies" within it. I'm like, "Okay, really bad essay, let's see if this lacklustre rubric can squeeze some good stuff out of you."
I'm afraid I am witness to people turning into "sheeple", in the educational system called the MOOC. And if I can see this in a very progressive system of teaching, then how much more of this is going on in the traditional educational setting? Or perhaps it's just because these adults all went to school traditionally many years ago, and are already presently sheeple and really just don't know any other better way of being? What do you think? I think that lots of people come in as sheeple and want everybody else to be sheeple, too. It's almost like their worlds are shaken to hear a different way of doing things (because I always share my own ways of doing things, in the forums). It makes them feel uneasy, it makes them feel disoriented. Why is that woman grading the essays like that! What if it's not my essay she's grading? Then that will mean someone will get a really big score just because she grades that way, which means my score won't be so big in comparison, which means I need to stop this woman and tell her that she's doing things wrongly! I'm pretty sure that's how some people think, because that's sure how some of them react.
Aside from the points already discussed here, I also see gender oppression in MOOCs. I have a very feminine, sweet name and I'm pretty sure that's why some students follow me around in the forums relentlessly, down-voting my comments and discussions, for no reason whatsoever. I could say "Thank you" in a comment and somebody will down-vote it. Meanwhile, a woman named "Barbara" or "Susan" (strong sounding names), can say whatever they want without taking any heat. There is a list of top people in the forums and I have looked at these lists, and curiously, all females with feminine names (Maria, Anna, Marie, Emma, etc.) have a significantly higher rate of down-votes as compared to the men and the other women with more robust-sounding names. So why is it that you can be smart, say smart things, but then be bullied because you have a feminine sounding name? And do keep in mind that this is all online, people don't even know what other people look like, aside from the tiny, little itty bitty profile photo that we are allowed to have for the forums. So this is all activity that I have noticed amongst people who don't even have physical interaction with one another.
Another remarkable thing I've observed, is how, at the beginning of a course, everybody treats everybody else a bit roughly. Well, not everybody. But very many. Then at the end of a course, everybody will be wishing everyone else well. This makes me conclude that students come into a course with a very high sense of competition, of a need to compete, as if being in school is being in a reality t.v. show where there is only one winner and that winner is going to take home a hundred thousand dollars!
Why are adults acting like this? Why are all these issues still rampant in today's world? Aren't we all getting any better, at all? Aren't we all becoming more and more "enlightened"? Or is that all just a bunch of shit that we say when we're on Facebook? Is that all just a bunch of talk that people say on Facebook and make into memes? Seriously, where are all the enlightened, free-thought, full-of-positivity people? They're certainly not in the classrooms! So what does it mean when we realise that educational systems are in fact not fostering what we know should be fostered in everyone, everywhere? In our kids and in our selves!
I will leave you with a lot to ponder upon, today. And I want you to ponder upon all of these points, because it's serious stuff and we need to change it. You can change it. One person at a time. If we want our kids to be better people, then we need to be better people, first. Frankly, I am truly tired of being a catalyst for change wherever I go, because it's not like I try to be it, it's just that I'm divergent and I can't conform to anything that I know is not the best for anyone to conform to. So I end up shattering walls and building new structures and it gets tiring. It gets tiring because more often than not, you're all alone! Not everyone is divergent. In fact, most people are not divergent, that's why you're divergent, in the first place, because you're different, because most people aren't like you. But I can't stop being divergent, because this is me. What I can do, is encourage you to join me. Trust me, it's hard, but we sure do have some fun over here!